Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Penalty double - the other kind

In the hand from the Dutch training weekend, the double was based on an a bad trump split. This can occur with a stack, of course, or on a void, hoping for a useful holding from partner. This time it was a tip-off and the contract was made, and would have gone down with a normal line of play without any clues.

A more rewarding type of double is when you can tell that the sidesuits aren't breaking well for declarer. Declarer will likely suffer from a shortage of tricks and may loose more than expected because s/he expects trumps to misbehave (when they actually split very well).

Here is an example of that kind from the Swedish first division weekend last December (imps).
I had A76/KT3/QJ8432/9 (nonv/vul) and listened to the following auction:

pass - (1D) - pass - (1S);
pass - (2D) - pass - (3C);
pass - (3S) - pass - (4S);
pass - (pass) - ?

With both minors splitting badly and no slam interest this seemed like a good opportunity and I doubled. The complete deal:


Jackpot! Declarer won the diamond lead in dummy, finessed in clubs and partner shifted to the J of spades to declarer's Q. Ace of clubs ruffed by me, ace of spades and a diamond. This was ruffed by declarer, overruffed by partner who then proceeded to cash three good clubs for +1100.

Overcalling light - to the extreme

The debate about overcalling light and just how light is has rabid followers on either side. I used to be very aggressive but has tightened up with the occasional very aggressive overcalls - every hand gets judged on it's own merit. The difference is that I try to exercise judgement, not just overcall on any excuse.

People bashing the over-active style should study one of the most successful partnerships over the last decade (including the #1 ranked player in the world) of Lauria-Versace. They are extreme and [probably] capable of judging the merits of this style.

We played them last December in Milan when this occured (vs my team-mates): Versace overcalled 3D in 2nd position (i.e. unpassed partner) over a weak 2S red against white (teams) on Kxx/x/QJTxxxx/QJ !

Lauria had -/ATxxxx/AKx/T8xx and bid 4NT as a good raise over 4S to his right and then passed 5D. Just a spot-on +600 and an auction to reflect upon. My take is that Lauria is normally the more aggressive one (within the partnership) when overcalling.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Length in enemy suit - good or anus?

It's widely regarded that having length in the opening suit, typically 4, is a plus feature when considering an overcall in direct position. This has been put forward by Mike Lawrence, the theory beeing that it's now better odds to find support from partner in your suit and potential shortness and to be able to ruff losers without risking overruffs.

I accept this at the 1-level but am convinced that 2-level overcalls in a lower ranking suit should *never* be done with 4 cards in opened suit. People not listening has come to regret this advice.

As of lateley, I've come to extend this when considering a 2-level overcall after a natural 2 Club opening (Precision etc). A hand from the Camrose series recently, that I watched on BBO, gave me a clue.

So, when practising against Cullin-Upmark and this hand came up I was well prepared. All vul and I had Axx/AK98x/Q/QTxx. P-O Cullin opened 2C (classic Precision) and I passed without any hesitation. If partner was a passed hand? That really doesn't matter as any decision about overcalling should never be based on finding partner with an opening hand.

2C was passed out and this was the full deal:


The contract went one off (should've been two) and 2H was a couple off as well. This doesn't exactly makes me change my mind about length in enemy suit...

Who's zooming who?

Went to Stockholm last week (on work) and did some practise with Frederic. We're going to Montegrotto in Italy next week and really need to get a lot of boards together.

One evening we practised against the new Open Team partnership of Cullin-Upmark. They got the nod for the 3rd spot on the Swedish team for the Bermuda Bowl this fall in Shanghai just a day earlier. They needed to be *roughed up* ;-)

I opened 2H showing 9-12 w/6+suit on AQx/QT87xx/Kx/Jx all white. Partner invited and I had to play 4H. Johan Upmark led a 3rd/5th diamond:



I covered with the T and ace to the right followed by club Queen (2nd/4th) after about a minute. Diamonds looked as 4-4. I took the ace immediately and played a spade to the ace with the 9 on my right (upside-down) and small to the left.
Heart to the 9-K-A followed by club and more clubs dropping the T to the left. Clubs looked 5-3 and I was sure spades wasn't 5-1 either way as no spade lead or trick 2 shift.

Not wanting to play for hearts to break immediately, I decided - after some thought, to play a spade to dummy first and lead hearts up. This resulted in J - K - x. There it was, the final clue - and I finessed in hearts to pick up Jx.

Johan knew it was about the trump suit and played spade J from Jx to look like 2-2-4-5 instead of 3-1-4-5. But, I "knew" that spades were 3-3 from the 9 played in trick 3 but couldn't be 100% sure about how the minor-suits broke. Therefore the J play, when I knew he had another one, was a sure "tell".

Dutch training weekend

Time to start my own bridge blog. This blog will focus on bidding judgement and theory as well as observations from the bridge table. Anything goes ;-)

First up is a hand from a training weekend i Holland this January against Team Orange. Sweden was invited and this was the first time I ever played with my new partner Frederic Wrang.

Playing against Bas Drijver and Sjoert Brink, this was board 1 with Bas on my [left] side of the screen, on BBO viewgraph:

All White, my hand was Q97xx/Kxx/Tx/T9x.

The bidding started on my left:

(2H) [weak in H or S] - X - (pass) - 2S;
(pass) - 3S - (pass) - 4S;
(X) all pass

4S was probably way too optimistic in a new partnership but I didn't want to miss a game and as Kokish so elegantly phrases it: You can't cut it too fine!

Bas promptly doubled and tabled heart J. Dummy comes down with:



This doesn't take long. It's obvious that Bas doubled with a spade void and the club ace. 6 hearts is shown by the opening bid.

Ace of hearts, spade to the seven (heart discard), K of hearts, ruff with the spade ace and another spade from dummy. +590